The Arts

Now I Sit the Saddle to Freedom

12:00 noon

Strangely wonderful it is
to bike this path
through eastern Arizona
without a belonging
to say my name.

5:30 p.m.

Crow at my back,
cattle in the creek meadow
and wildfire beyond the ridge—
is Snyder
in the lookout tower?

6:30 p.m.

My Sons Who Have No Opera to Console Them

Pavarotti lies in a hospital bed,
and my sons who have no opera

to console them, pulled from the driveway.

I held them in the garage without words—
poet who could say nothing—

and my hands, the empty tools of fatherhood—

chased their bikes from the greasy floor,
fished laundry from the pile,

and dressed the wild room for a guest.

Los Vendedores

Out of the sand they come
crowing like cocks in the morning sun

chanting their strange, melodious hymns to food:
TortilleroHeladoManí tostado,

and the children, burnished and thin
scurry to meet the musical men

and the women, smoked in their shawls
float on brooms behind them

and the beach is never still
with the halo of hunger overhead.

Hunting for Rain

Walking your dog, Cookie,
through the low curbs of Carson,
wondering who will cash your check

for misery, for rain, so that you
might escape the brick terrace
of rent, of living outside this land—

the rucksack piled in your sled
you drug up the snow of Wild Rose Creek
to meet me. I wonder too, Maria,

Anthem for a Burnished Land

[Anthem for a Burnished Land is the poem that poet Shaun Griffin wrote for Governor Sandoval's inauguration. He read the poem on January 3, 2011 and has kindly granted us permission to publish it on the ONE.]

The great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, said the end of art is peace. If a poem can do anything, it can help us to reflect on why we need the ritual of ceremony in our lives and in so doing take some peace from this moment.

This poem is a testimony to the desire of all who have chosen the hardscrabble landscape of Nevada as home.

Shaun Griffin

Shaun Griffin is a poet, translator, editor, and activist. A native of Southern California, he has lived with his wife and family in Virginia City, Nevada, since 1978. Griffin is the author of five poetry collections, which honor the West's many cultures and landscapes through resonant, meditative imagery.


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